Work in Iceland

Equal rights - no exceptions

The right of foreign nationals to work in Iceland

Workers from the member states of EU and EFTA (EEA) have the right to work in Iceland and do not need residence- or work permit. They must however apply for an ID number and register their domicile in Iceland. For further information see

Citizens from outside the EEA must have work- and residence permit before they start working in Iceland.

Collective agreements are the minimum as regards wages and other employment terms

Trade unions negotiate collective agreements for wages and other employment terms of wage earners. According to Icelandic law, collective agreements as negotiated by the trade unions and employers organisationns apply as minimum terms in the Icelandic labour market, irrespective of gender, nationality or duration of employment, for all wage earners in the profession in question. Contracts of employment between individual wage earners and employers stipulating poorer employment terms than those provided for in the collective agreements are invalid.

All jobs and industries in Iceland are covered by collective agreements.

Equal status of women and men

Women and men who are employed by the same employer are entitled to equal pay and equal terms for work that is of equal value and comparable. Terms in addition to pay refers to pension rights, entitlement to wages paid in case of absence due to illness and any other terms or benefits that may be given monetary value.

Trade unions and shop stewards

Almost all wage earners in Iceland are members of a union. Unions are independent of the authorities and everything that employees discuss with shop stewards or union employees is confidential. Unions negotiate for the wages and employment terms of wage earners and guard the interests of employees with respect to employers. Employers are required to deduct membership dues from employees’ wages and return the dues to the respective union. The membership fee is for negotiating a collective agreement on wages and other working terms, and it will cover the cost of daily services to members and protecting their interests towards employers.

Membership of unions provides entitlement to payments from the sickness fund, holiday fund and vocational training fund of the union in question according to the rules of the funds.

The trade union shop stewards oversee that employers abide by the collective agreements and that the rights of employees are not violated. Employees must contact the union shop steward at their place of work with their complaints against the employer.

Icelandic language courses

According to law, employers and trade unions must provide employees holding temporary work permits with information regarding basic courses in Icelandic for foreigners, courses in civics and other learning courses that may be available to workers and their families.

More on wages, rights and collective agreements can in this brochure

Website in English and Polish about workers rights